The Mer de Glace (literally “the sea of ice”) is a French glacier, located on the Mont-Blanc massif. It is 30 km² wide, 12 kilometers long and 300 meters thick, making it the largest glacier in France and the third-largest in the Alps.
This ice giant is however threatened: climate change is causing it to thaw rapidly. Each year, the glacier shortens by 30 to 40 meters and loses 4 to 5 meters of its downstream thickness. Since 1850, the Mer de Glace has withdrawn by 2 kilometers. Scientists predict it could withdraw by another 1.2 kilometers by 2040.
The glaciers’ importance can be observed from hundreds of kilometers downstream on ecosystems and human activities. Glaciers play a crucial role in the regulation of hydrologic flows, of the climate globally, and impact increasing sea-levels.
If glaciers were to disappear, the consequences would be disastrous and unprecedented for biodiversity (including human beings and non-human beings). Along with the oceans’ thermal expansion, the thawing of the glaciers and of the Antarctic and Greenland ice caps is the main cause for the global sea-level rise.
The conservation of glaciers is critical and can only be achieved by addressing climate change.